Jake McLarnon, Benjamin Chapman and Katina Olsen, from Expressions Dance Company, in Mozart Airborne - on now in Brisbane.
Jake McLarnon, Benjamin Chapman and Katina Olsen, from Expressions Dance Company, in Mozart Airborne - on now in Brisbane. FenLan Chuang

Mozart's arias get a contemporary makeover

WHILE Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart might have once hit a snag combining ballet into an opera, a new Queensland production proves the two were always destined as a sublime union.

Mozart Airborne combines the talents of some of this state's best operatic singers and contemporary dancers on one stage in a one-hour show of athleticism and emotion.

Voices and bodies entwine in complicated yet seamless arrangements while pianist Alex Raineri flawlessly recites some of Mozart's moving arias.

This first offering at the newly refurbished Cremorne Theatre at Queensland Performing Arts Centre is mesmerising and awe inspiring, but it might not be the best choice for novice arts theatre goers.

With no definable narrative beyond the expression of human emotion, it can be difficult to navigate the dream-like landscape on stage.

But as with all contemporary dance or opera offerings, what the audience feels during each performance is as important as what a choreographer or composer sets out to achieve.

The opening scene, introducing six dancers from Expressions Dance Company and six singers from Opera Queensland, is about retrospection.

But it could just as easily tell the story of a young man struggling with inner demons, drugs addiction perhaps, as was the powerful, stirring nature of Richard Causer's performance.

Hayley Sugars's commanding presence on stage during the Don Giovanni piece Mi Tradi quell'alma ingrata is breathtaking. The power in her mezzo-soprano voice creates an emotionally-charged setting for Elise May to interpret through dance.

Two pieces of dance choreography particularly stand out during Mozart Airborne for their creativity and originality.

Choreographer Stephanie Lake's work to Pria di partir, oh Dio - from Idomeneo - is fun and thrilling as the EDC dancers trigger chain reactions from each other as though children are play fighting.

Dancer Elise May's choreography to an aria from Cosi fan tutte is a unique expression of masculinity and friendship between dancers Benjamin Chapman, Richard Causer and Jake McLarnon.

She carefully weaves baritone Samuel Piper and tenor Dominic Walsh into the playful piece that smacks of five conmen all working from the same playbook.

 

Expressions Dance Company and Opera Queensland are now presenting Mozart Airborne. Pictured (L-R) Melissa Gregory, Dominic J Walsh, Hayley Sugars, Elise May, Michelle Barnett, Katina Olsen, Jake McLarnon, Emily Turner and Sarah Crane.
Expressions Dance Company and Opera Queensland are now presenting Mozart Airborne. Pictured (L-R) Melissa Gregory, Dominic J Walsh, Hayley Sugars, Elise May, Michelle Barnett, Katina Olsen, Jake McLarnon, Emily Turner and Sarah Crane. FenLan Chuang

This will be the last season Benjamin Chapman and Michelle Barnett, who also impresses in her solo with Walsh depicting an estranged couple, will dance with EDC.

For the most part, the interaction between singers and dancers is crafted well though it did prove awkward at times.

But the virtuosic performances from the Opera Queensland singers nod convincingly at Mozart's ability to convey human emotion through his arias.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cremorne Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

August 4-12

Tickets: premium $65, A-reserve $55, concession $45, student $30, youth (under 30) $30.

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